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Buy some silver coins your family can play with

It is not quite the night before Christmas, but if you want to buy something, you are running out of time even for overnight delivery.

I was comparing two silver offerings on the APMEX website this morning.

If you are attracted to the precious metal, which would you buy?

The 2017 silver American Eagles are priced at $19.74 each.

That is a $3.63 markup, or 22.5 percent, from the intrinsic silver value.

Silver was $16.11 per ounce when I checked.

There are good reasons to buy silver American Eagles.

They are popular. They have been since they were created in 1986.

They were on rocket fuel for more than a decade through the year 2015.

They are beautiful. The Walking Liberty design gets nods of approval from most collectors.

They are familiar to coin dealers and other buyers.

Why not take the plunge and get some?

As I said, I wanted to compare alternatives.

The alternative I chose was Mercury dimes.

I have an emotional attachment to them.

I occasionally received them from my customers when I had my paper route.

I dreamed of finding a 1916-D. It never happened. But the dream is still very vivid in my memory.

APMEX will sell you a half a standard bag, or $500 face value of Mercury dimes.

Price is $6,685.25. That is $925.92 over silver value, or a markup of 16 percent.

The number of ounces in $500 face value is 357.5.

That explains why the price I chose for the silver Eagle was one based on a sales quantity of 100 to 499.

I wanted the comparison to be apples to apples.

Mercury dimes are cheaper.

That should be a major inducement for silver bullion buyers to lean in their direction.

However, most silver buyers these days have no fond memories of Mercury dimes to sway them.

They just want a known quantity of silver that they can sell rapidly when the time comes.

Most coin dealers who handle bullion, I am sure, would rather handle the silver Eagles because they are easier to move in the marketplace.

You don’t need to be a coin collector to understand Eagles.

But for coin collectors, that little bit of added inconvenience on the disposition side of things in the future should not be allowed to make a difference.

They would have the sheer joy of owning a quantity of coins that gave them pleasure.

They would own coins that they could share.

They could show them to noncollecting family members and not worry about mishandling.

Children can play with them.

Tiny finger-sized collectible dolls and doodads are popular this year. Whey not some tiny collectible coins to go with them?

It was close contact with coins that made a difference when I was a kid.

Would I have become a collector if every coin I encountered then I couldn’t touch?

Why wouldn’t touchability make a difference now to the current generation of potential collectors?

If you are looking to acquire silver, buy a few Mercury dimes that you can get up close and personal with. APMEX will sell in smaller and more affordable sizes as well.

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Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."